I've had The Ring and the Crown on my TBR shelf for a good year. I bought it on a whim on a random Walmart trip, and while the Walmart in my small town doesn't have much of a book selection, and while I really don't find anything appealing about this cover, I somehow managed to buy it. However, the uninteresting cover made it sit on my shelf for a long while. I might have read it just because I was tired of looking at it.
The Ring and the Crown is Marie Antionette (the movie with Kirsten Dunst) and A Darker Shade of Magic. It's an alternate fiction set in 18th century London while the city is part of the British-Franco empire. The settings are lush and extravagant, the dresses large and expensive. Everything speaks to high cost and style. But there are also elements of magic, too. A Merlin (that's a title rather than a person) helps rule beside the queen and lives for a thousand years.
The setting, the genre, the world building: these are all things I really, really enjoy, and since the book went on to amazing success and hitting a best-seller list, I settled into it with a mind to be blown away.
But I just--wasn't. Much to my disappointment. At first, it was a whirlwind of characters. From the princess of the British-Franco empire, to the magician in training, to the poor American, to the Prussian prince, to the cast off lover of the future queen...you get the idea. There are a lot of folks here. And for a while, I was content to get to know them, to get introduced to the world building, to try to see how it all fit together. Each and everyone of the characters is about as deep as a puddle, and it was really frustrating to watch them do the same stupid things over and over again, but at about halfway through the book, I was content to at least see it through (see my previous posts about DNFs).
Then the last 100 pages happened. Eye-roll after eye-roll. Vapid declarations of love. Girls realizing they didn't really love one guy and now love someone else. A prince who isn't really a prince. A villain who is discovered, identified, and neutralized ON THE SAME PAGE. I really, really struggled to finish, and had these events happened earlier in the book, I would have definitely set it aside. If one more shallow girl realized she loved someone the moment before they met a great danger, I was going to hurl!
Several of the 'revelations' toward the end also completely undermined the entire story. They conflicted every event so far, the aspects of world building, and were explored 0%. I won't spoil them for you here, but it would be like telling Aragorn, 'Actually you're adopted' and he's all 'Sure, sounds good' and continues fighting against Mordor like nothing happened. What exactly, would be the point of it? I don't understand why those elements were included, and in my opinion, they rob the book of every bit of intrigue it might have had.
Obviously, this book is hugely successful because some people are into this sort of thing. Some people watch The Bachelor, too, and I don't get that either. So that's not to say this book has no redeeming qualities or anything, just that the totally lack of plot, character development, and no concept of suspension of belief, I just couldn't get into it at all. I was so happy to have this one read and done with.
As always after reading something that didn't taste right, I'm diving back into a favorite author who I know will cleanse the palate: A Gathering of Shadows by VE Schwab. After reading This Savage Song and Our Dark Duet, VE Schwab (or Victoria Schwab) is quickly rising into the ranks of favorite authors along with Maggie Stiefvater, Marissa Meyer, and Sarah J. Maas. I loved A Darker Shade of Magic and look forward to continuing this series! What are you reading this week?